The Government has launched its new Disability Action Plan including a commitment to work with representatives from the guide dog and assistance animals sectors to improve access.
In its "Disability Action Plan" policy document, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said:
"90% of written responses agreed with the proposal for the UK Government to work more closely with guide and assistance dog organisations. Responses to the suggestion of increasing fines for access refusals were more mixed. While there was some support for increasing fines, the general view was that this would not deter access refusals on its own. Respondents also noted that the measure would only apply to access refusals in taxis and private hire vehicles. It would not apply to access refusals experienced in the wider retail and hospitality industry."
He went on to point out that "Taxis and private hire vehicles are regulated by local licensing authorities and the government’s updates to guidance, published in November 2023, underline that councils must take action against drivers who discriminate against disabled people, including assistance dog owners, bringing prosecutions and suspending or revoking licences where required."
Other suggestions included:
Taking this work forward, he said:
A new working group with representatives from the guide dog and assistance animals sectors will make recommendations to the government on how to improve support for people with guide and assistance dogs.
DU will set up and co-ordinate this group with representatives from the guide dog and assistance animals sectors. The group will include owner trainers and organisations representing other assistance animals, such as emotional support animals.
This working group will meet in 2024 and make initial recommendations to the government after 6 months and final recommendations within 12 months.
The working group will explore issues such as: